Apologies in advance if this is even less coherent than usual…the amount of antihistamines that I’m on right now makes it difficult to open my eyes fully, let alone form thoughts.
Can you just imagine how different reading Shooting War would be if McCain had won? At its time of publication, I can understand why so many reviews called it “prescient” or “prophetic.” As it is, reading it is like reading a weird mirrorworld version of American history. Still relevant? I have a feeling that Shooting War would be better known if McCain had won.
I had a lot of issues with Shooting War and its characters-the slacker-makes-good technophile, unhinged, trigger-happy Army thugs with menacing nicknames, the slutty foreign journalist, and of course, the Muslim correspondent who helps Jimmy discover what’s really important. Lappe and Goldman’s characterization of Sameera just seemed like they were plugging in a Magical Arab. I think the overall shallowness of the graphic novel really lessened its impact.
In contrast, In the Shadow of no Towers seemed more invested in asking (but not answering) the really difficult questions that no one wanted to raise, or felt they could raise, in 2001. As Speigelman’s muddled narrative makes clear, there aren’t really any easy answers. I think one of Speigelman’s most effective points was the treatment of Americans who disagreed with the United States’ global response after 2001. Katha Pollit wrote a really moving article about not letting her teenaged daughter put an American flag up after 9/11 in The Nation. Below is the link if anyone wants to read it.
In Pollitt’s collection of essays, Virginity or Death, she wrote about the response to her article. Several conservative blogs and pundits responded to it by publishing Pollitt’s address and encouraging people to send American flags to her child. She got a lot of hate mail and death threats, some pornography, and one of those little 99 cent paper flags on a wooden dowel that you can get at the gas station. It was made in China. Pollitt wrote that this was a more valuable lesson than anything she could have taught her daughter. I think people responded to harshly to Pollitt’s article because she insisted on bringing up what no one wanted to talk about, specifically the fact that many of the current regimes in the Middle East were installed with U.S. support.
Soooo….in light of what’s happened since Shooting War was published, is it still relevant? Helpful? A frightening look at what might have been? Do the reviews of the novel that call it “preachy” and overly politicized have anything to do with how poorly movies like Stop Loss and Lions for Lambs performed at the box office?